Building Learning Communities is a well-known and well-attended conference run by US ICT guru Alan November in Boston. There has been nothing quite like it on this side of the Atlantic, but a core of UK leading thinkers on ICT and learning gather in Ireland this week to scope out what a uniquely European event – and an unconference to boot – could look like.
Learning on The Beach (#LOB10 on Twitter), is a three-day event exploring all sorts of learning, CPD and cultural activities. "It's a yearly festival of learning in a delightful outdoor setting where adults get to play again," says John Davitt. "It's where mobile tools come alongside sand, sticks and surf in a beautiful west of Ireland Atlantic beach setting."
While it's a low-key event this year, LOB11 will ramp up the numbers and be pitched for at least 50 attendees. Because it's an "unconference" event (focused on the needs of attendees rather than organisers) this year it's free. The only cost to visitors was the preferential rate for accommodation at the nearby luxurious Mulranny Park Hotel (€50 a night!).
"The focus for the conference is outdoor exploration, activity, new technology and learning in the broadest sense," adds John Davitt. "We are making some time and space available to explore the workings of environment and activity and how they can be combined to lock in delight in informal learning situations. You don't have to do anything, just turn up with an open mind and take part. New thinking and learning is what is on offer and this is as appropriate to the commercial sector as to the education field. All are welcome.
"The aim for the LOB10 unconference is to explore some of the core issues that underpin active learning approaches. A key outcome for the event will be the drafting of some principles to inform the future design of outdoor learning events. A second aim will be to explore how simple and effective we can make formative feedback in an outdoor desk-free setting."
The event, organised by John Davitt, Angela Davitt and Eliza Mountford through Wordroutes Ltd, is based on the following founding principles:
- an Atlantic west coast gathering;
- free exchange of ideas and activities;
- a focus on getting active in learning for all;
- a gathering without chairs;
- beachmeet open to all comers;
- a digital ceilidh;
- and only grid reference and a time for the first meeting.